Researchers reactivate cells in 32 brains… from dead pigs

Three years ago, American scientists conducted an experiment that seemed straight out of an episode of Black Mirror: they managed to reactivate dead pig brain cells.

In 2019, researchers at Yale University (USA) succeeded in reactivating certain neuronal functions in the brains of dead pigs. At least that’s a study published in the journal “Nature”.

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The brain becomes active again

To do this, the scientists networked 32 pig brains via Brain Ex, a system for examining the brain and its functions. Note that the mammals had been slaughtered in a slaughterhouse four hours earlier, before their brains were completely removed from the skulls.

Once this step was complete, the brains were flushed for six hours with an experimental solution aimed at oxygenating the tissues and limiting lesions. Result: The specialists observed a decrease in the destruction of brain cells. But that’s not all ! They also recognized circulatory functions.

Photo credit: Yale School of Medicine

In a press release, one of the study’s authors explains that this experiment does not prove that it is possible to resurrect from brain death. In fact, the researchers could not identify the brains examined “no electrical activity indicative of conscious or perceptual phenomena”. “These are not living brains, but brains whose cells are active”.

An extraordinary breakthrough

Researchers hope this technology can improve our ability to study the brain and its cellular functions. One of the main directions of these studies would be brain disorders and diseases. This could pave the way for the development of new therapies for brain damage, Alzheimer’s disease or Huntington’s disease.

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This is an extraordinary and very promising breakthrough for neuroscience. It immediately provides a much better model for studying the human brain, which is extraordinarily important given the immense human suffering caused by mental illness. [et] of the brain”Nita Farahany, a bioethicist at Duke University School of Law, told National Geographic.

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